Dusting off the Dinosaurs

In the past year, StarCityGames.com has interviewed him and imitated him both to great degrees of success, but we all know there is only one Jamie Wakefield, and he hasn’t picked up a Magical card in five years… until now. What brought Jamie out of retirement, what deck did he play, and what does the man, the myth, the legend have to say about the state of the game today? It’s all here folks, so what are you waiting for?

[Editor’s Note: This article has been reprinted with permission from www.jamiewakefield.com.]

Dusting off the Dinosaurs

Ye olde dice box.

Very long time friend Hilary has opened his own comic and gaming store called Heroes Kingdom. And I haven’t been up to see it all finished. We went up to help out before it opened a couple times, and we saw it right after it opened, but it wasn’t fully stocked yet. So, Hilary’s been asking when I’m going to come up again. Interlaced with this, is “When are you going to come up for a tournament?” And I have always responded with, “I don’t know any of the new cards. I can’t spend the whole day reading cards. When you have a tournament where I can play Secret Force and the old crew can play all their old cards, I’ll be up to play in that.” And that day finally came.

Mmm, prizes!

That door prize listed above is my book. Hilary found one for sixty-five bucks somewhere on the net and was going to give it out at some point. He thought it was fitting.

So, I’ve agreed to play in this tournament, and around Christmas time, Alan comes down to break me in half with a few decks. Show me the new environment and show me why Green is bad. He knows I won’t listen, but makes a valiant effort anyway.

He brings in a few decks from his truck, we shoot the breeze for a bit, and then he proceeds to crush me a number of times. With me responding to most cards with exclamations like “What the F…” and “Are you kidding me?” and “Mark Rosewater designed this didn’t he?” and lastly, blank stares with my mouth slightly open in disbelief.

My feelings can be somewhat summed up by this article Josh wrote for Londes.com. Talk about full circle, huh?

A few years ago, I got a flurry of emails from people telling me that Magic was perfect for me right now. That it was all about the middle game and big creatures and big effects. And I toyed with the idea of seeing what I could do in an age of fatties when I supposed to be the Fattie King. What tricks and toys could I come up with that people had missed? Would I reign, or was I only good as the fattie king in an environment of combo and no one expecting a deck like mine?

Well, it didn’t really matter because the era passed with the last block. Things like first and second turn kills returned. Cards that let you draw three cards for two mana. Or cards that let you go into your sideboard in the first game and Perish away my entire deck in game one. Mechanics like Affinity that ruin any late game until it rotates out. (Before you write to me explaining how I am mistaken about certain things, remember that I have been out of Magic for five years. If I get the terms or mechanics wrong, it’s because I’m really not that familiar with them, but am familiar with their effect. That of making the middle game disappear.)

This is usually the part of the report where I would go on a long tear on Mark Rosewater and how he’s ruining Magic. But I realized on the car to Heroes Kingdom that it’s not Mark’s fault. Mark designs some great cards. It really the playtesters and whoever has the final say that a card is ready to go to print that is to blame. Hell, let’s just say I don’t know who to blame. But regardless, someone over there is not doing there job when every three years someone can come along and ruin Magic and turn it into 1-3 turn kills like Combo Winter and what I hear the current environment is like now.

Mark Rosewater shouldn’t be fired. But the guy who is supposed to be reigning him in should be.

I won a few games against Alan, but only the ones he was mana screwed. The other games I just sat there with a mix of wonder and sadness on my face. Thinking “I sure hope I don’t play combo decks all day at Hil’s store.”

Michelle calls me a couple days later with a desperate plea. “You can’t play Secret Force. They’re all expecting it and I want you to win! Don’t play Secret Force!”

“Michelle, I have to play Secret Force. I told Hilary that I would come up to see the store again and play in a tournament when I could play that deck. I can’t renege now.”

Michelle sighs. “I know, but I really want you to do well.”

“I’ll be fine. Trust me. Tell people I took your advice and I’m going to be playing “The Brother’s Grimm” for the tournament. Throw them off for me.”

“Okay. Will do.”

I’m told she hung up the phone and went back to the Magic area where the players started asking her questions. “Is he going to play Secret Force?”


“What is he going to play?”

Full of pride Michelle says “Hansel and Gretel.”

*Confused looks* “What?”

“Oh, maybe it wasn’t Hansel and Gretel. It was Little Red Riding Hood.”

“Um, What? Wakefield never made a deck called Little Red Riding Hood…”

Michelle thinks hard. “It was some fairy tale name…”

“The Brother’s Grimm?”

Snaps her fingers. “That’s it.”

Its time for a picture, so here’s one of Michelle chatting with some old fat guy reading comics.

I choose this picture because it shows off an angle of the store.

Nice shelving

Mare and I get up at 7:30 as usual, play some WoW (World of Warcraft), and then head up the road to Heroes Kingdom.

On the way up, Mare asks me, as wives are wont to do, “What are you thinking about?”

“I’m thinking about Hilary saying repeatedly “I should slap you for not buying your dad’s Comic Shop. If you had that now, we could control all of Vermont!” And I’m thinking that once my Adelphia stock hits it big, I’m going to open a Comic Book shop in Middlebury and retire. Its not going to be for making a profit, but more for a hangout and clubhouse. I’ll have a big screen TV and couches, and many many computers and since I won’t need the money, I’ll give the worst customer service the world has ever seen.”

Here’s your stock tip of the decade. I call it “of the decade” because I’ve been giving the same one for five years now, and probably will for five years more.

I read a book a long time ago called “Replay.” In it, the protagonist has a heart attack. In the middle of that heart attack, he blacks out, and when he comes too, he is in his body, in his college dorm, and is 19 years old again. He relives his life, but since he knows the outcome of sporting events and the stock market, it is very easy for him to get rich. And when he reaches late forties again, he, again, has a heart attack, and blacks out. And again wakes up in college and gets to do it all over again. After a couple of these lifetimes, he finds someone else that is also repeating lifetimes and they fall in love.

Unlike our hero, the lady he comes to love isn’t getting rich in the stock market, but instead, is getting rich on skills. She has become a fantastic movie director and artist. Which is how he finds her actually, in one of his lifetimes, a blockbuster movie comes out that he’s never heard of, and like E.T. is so huge that it wouldn’t have been something he would have missed in his previous lives. He goes to see the movie and can tell that she is a repeater as well.

I’m rambling now. None of that last paragraph has anything to do with Adelphia.

Adelphia was a stock that at one time was almost 50 dollars a share. Then candle and corruption rocked the company and it dropped to a quarter a share. Where it remains, and has remained for the last three years. In those three years, I have asked my much more financially wise fellows “Why wouldn’t I buy Adelphia now? It’s a huge telecommunications and cable company that has millions of subscribers. If they ever get back on their feet, the stock will go back to 50 dollars, right? Buy low, sell high?”

To which they responded with “They won’t get back on their feet. They will be bought up and the pieces sold off.”

To which I responded. “Ah. Damn.”

So, a year goes by and Adelphia does not get bought up or subdivided or erased in any way. And, taking the bull by the horns, I convince myself that buying stock in Adelphia can’t be any worse than playing the lottery. I speak with great conviction to “she who controls the money” a.k.a. The Lovely Mare, and ask her how much money we can afford to flush down the toilet without being adversely affected. And then I convince her that it would be wiser to invest in Adelphia stock than to flush it down the toilet. And, happy happy joy joy, she agrees. So, we come up with a number that makes us both happy and we buy some stock in Adelphia at 24 cents a share.

Its now about 4 years later, and Adelphia has continued to expand. It still has not been bought up and sold off. And it still hovers around 24 cents a share. And it still provides me with phone, Internet and cable TV.

I’m hoping that someday my measly 24-cent stock will recover.


Based on what I just read by looking at it on Market Watch, it looks like I’ll be waiting a long time.

Oh well, I’ve held the faith this long, I can hold it another 20 years if need.

Moving right along…. How about we just get to the tourney.

We arrive to see a transformed Heroes Kingdom. Its changed a lot since the last time we were there, and now looks like what I think a real comic and gaming store should look like. Rows of Comics and games. T-Shirts. Miniatures, Dice. Binders of Cards. And an area in the back and front for gaming.

The table picture below is in the front of the store. And was bought at a yard sale when Hilary and I were in college. We used to play Dungeons and Dragons on that table fifteen years ago.

Old Table

Here’s a nice picture of the Kranky one, Keith Kenyon. Me sorting cards. Rod chatting with Hilary as he enters the players into the computer for the tournament, and Barb and Zach looking over a new card game staring Ash.

Gamers, gaming.

Below is just a great picture of all the games and supplies they have on one section of the store and the game room in the back.

More nice shelves

Anyway, the store looks great. We have a pretty good crew here. On the bright side, we have me, Rod, Michelle, and Keith all playing in our first tourney in five years, and Hilary’s running it. On the not so bright side, I only see one of the old Middlebury crew other than K I used to play with. And even some of Hilary’s regulars aren’t there. We get 16 for the tournament, which isn’t bad, and made for a nice, non-cramped play area.

I play a few practice games and joke around with everyone there and then Hilary announces pairings.

My first match is against Alan Webter. Playing the coolest deck I have ever seen.

Hmm, I suppose it’s possible there are still a few people who don’t know what I’m playing, so here’s my list.

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Fyndhorn Elves

3 Elven Lyrists

3 Uktabi Orangutan

4 Wall of roots

4 Spike Feeder

2 Spike Weaver

1 Insane Squirrel Master

2 Verdant Force.

4 Natural Order

3 Overrun

4 Creeping Mold

4 Wastelands

4 Gaea’s Cradle

And some Forests.

Hmm, I think that’s it…

Not really a whole lot of spells in that deck.

The deck is still together, and in its black sleeves from Pro Tour: Chicago. The sideboard and everything else is just as I left it. Except I start to look over the sideboard and I’m thinking “Wtf is this jank? What was I thinking putting Emerald Charm in there? I read it over and over again, and I just can’t see how this card made the cut. Why the hell do I have Hurricane in here? How did Hailstorm make the cut as a sideboard card in a deck with so many one-toughness creatures?” What was I thinking?

Oh well, I need to make some room for 4 Naturalize anyway, I’ll just play with this a little bit. I end up taking out a few things out of my sideboard and adding in 4 Naturalize, 2 Rancor, and one Multani, Maro Sorcerer. Holy bad Batman.

Oh yeah, my first opponent is Alan, playing the coolest deck I have ever seen.

Wakefield vs. Webter

I really have no idea what he’s going to play, since he showed me multiple decks when he came down the other day. I play a few Forests, he Plows my Elf so I have no speed, plays a Sylvan Library and starts sucking up cards the next turn. On the fourth turn I try to play Spike Weaver and he slams down a Mystic Snake. I pull the card over to my side and read it.

“That is the coolest thing ever.”

I untap my lands and try to keep playing and Alan gives me that “What the hell are you doing, scrub?” expression. Heh. I tap all my lands again. “Just because you just played a creature doesn’t mean it’ my turn does it? That was on my turn. Doh!”

He shakes his head, sucks up some more cards and plays a land and says go. I try to play a Deranged Hermit and he Absorbs it gaining back three life. He Absorbs and Snakes anything I want to play, going back up in life and beating me down with an army of 2/2’s. Then he plays an Eternal Witness and a Pheldagriff and I bust out laughing.

I was so amused I forgot to have Mare get a picture of his huge army and my empty side of the board. What you see above is actually our second game. I’ve sided in Tsunamis and Rancor, since his deck seems pretty slow and he seems willing to use that Sylvan to hurt himself.

Alan sides in “Old Man of the Sea.” For those who don’t know, that’s “Tap Old man to take control of any creature with lesser or equal power to Old man of the Sea.” Basically, almost everything of mine. But only one at a time.

On turn 1 he plows an elf. On turn 2 he plays a Sylvan. On turn 3 I play out a Spike Feeder. On turn 4, I try to Tsunami and he Snakes it and I bust out laughing again. Then he untaps and plays an Old Man of the Sea. I untap and do something useless. He untaps and taps Old Man of the Sea, targeting Spike Feeder. I debate about what I should do. I finally decide to sac him and Alan laughs. “Are you sure? Because I’ll be happy to take him over here and use him to get more life for cards. He won’t be over here that long I assure you.”


“Mare, come take a picture of this please!”

I try to Tsunami again and he snakes it.

I die laughing.

Coolest deck ever.

Round two is Rod’s son Mick. Who has grown six inches and now stares me in the eye when we talk. Luckily for me, he hasn’t played any Magic in five years either, and he is with Burn, which is usually a good matchup for me.

He starts with Mountain, Raging Goblin. I respond with “Paris to five.”

I take some early beatings, while playing Forest, go. Forest, Wall of Roots to stop your assault. Go.

Forest, Natural Order, Win.

Here’s a picture.

A Battle Goblins should not win.

Game two, Mick gets out some early beatings and focuses all his fire on me, and completely ignores my creatures. I get a Natural Order when I’m at ten, and we are at a creature stalemate. I ponder this for a bit and go get a Feeder to keep me above the danger zone. Our creatures sit and stare at each other for a bit while he Bolts and Fireblasts me down to two. I get another Natural Order and go get a Verdant. He draws a land and Bolts me. I sac a counter off the Spike Feeder to remain at one, and Creep his land next turn. I’d come over with the Verdant, but he’s got a Mogg Maniac holding me off. I start sending in the dinosaurs and eventually he has to block them to stay alive and the Mogg Maniac dies. Then the best fatty ever printed comes over.

Third round at 1-1 and I’m playing Brian.

Brian is also a friend from College, and has played about three tournaments in his entire life. He is also playing Mountain– Go which I am usually pretty good against.

Brian’s match is very similar to Mick’s. I Natural Order for a Feeder when I need it. Eventually the Verdant comes out and I finish him. Game two is interesting because Brian is playing with Lotus Petals. On his first turn he plays Mountain, Jackal Pup, Lotus Petal, Goblin Patrol.

A wall slows him down, then I Creep his only land and it’s over shortly after.


Oddly, I don’t have a picture of me playing Brian, so here’s a nice picture of Brian playing Keith and the lovely MT Dew Machine behind them. Isn’t it lovely? Wait, I’m wrong. It’s a Pepsi machine. But who cares. It sells Mountain Dew and that’s all that matters to me.

The glorious gift od caffeine.

Wheee! Two and One in my first tournament in five years and I’ve proven I can beat up kids and other people that haven’t played in five years!

Go me.

Round 4, and the last round before the Top 8. My opponent is Dan German playing Fish and Serendibs.

Did you know flying is some bad for me? Where the hell are my Emerald Charms?


Game one I get one land. He gets Fish and massive Serendib beatings. I die in spectacular fashion.

I side in Tsunamis.

Game two he gets out some fish that he can make fly, and he throws Curiosity on one of them. Like a dork, my Elvish Lyrist watches the fish fly over head, grasping futile at the air. “I can’t reach him, Master! What should I do?”

I have no idea, little lady. No idea at all. Flying is bad for me.

He draws cards for three turns off the Curiosity before I remember what Lyrists are in there for, and my Lyrist gives her life for the cause, destroying the Curiosity and stopping his card-drawing machine.

I Tsunami, but it has almost no effect since he’ playing low casting cost fish, and his hand is full of cards, some of them Islands.

I sneak an Insane Squirrel Master through the counters and enter the stand off phase pictured below.

Fatties vs. Fish

I eventually get a Verdant on the board and overwhelm him.

Game three is a nail biter like the second game.

He gets out a Rootwater Thief and a Serendib with Curiosity on it. Ugh. Some beatings. And I can’t seem to stop the hemorrhaging. He beats me down to ten in short order, and draws a ton of cards. I attempt to will myself to win.

Don’t give up hope! This is your deck! It has the answer! It always has the answer! Find it! Win! Don’t let your day end like this!

I top deck a Natural Order and go in for a Weaver. He has no counter. I stop him attacking for one turn by fogging, and then he draws a Capsize putting the Weaver back on top of my deck. Then the Rootwater Thief hits me, he removes the Weaver, and beats me to death with fish and Serendib.

Time for a side note:: I got up this morning at 7:30. Played some WoW with my honey, and then we went over to the store at 10:00 am for some breakfast and Red Bull. Then I came back and started writing this. At 1:30 I was a bit tired and got a small headache, so I laid down. I woke up two hours later and Mare had gone upstairs for a nap herself. I logged in to play for thirty minutes, then had coffee and started writing again.

As I type this, it is 8:14 in the evening. Evanescence is on VH1 and I had to tell you, they get my Album of the Year. I got their album for my Birthday in August (39) and have been listening to it in my RAV4 non-stop for four months. I am just barely starting to think I might need to listen to something else.

Okay, I need to do dishes, back soon.

“Kryptonite” by Three Doors down is on. What a fantastic video. An 80-year-old man stares longingly at his old Superhero costume while a pimp slaps around one of his girls. Three Doors Down is playing in a bar where all of the patrons are aging Superhero and villains. A waitress is delivering a plate of steaming, glowing green rocks to a table.

Oh yeah, I need to get back to Magic don’t I?

Top 8 is announced and one two and two gets in. Me.

I’d say Hilary threw the pairings, but it’s all done on his comp so I doubt it. Plus, the two guys that beat me are in the Top 8, so that helps me. Oh yeah, and there’s only 16 people.

My first round opponent is Zach. He is the top seed and I have no idea what he is playing. Zach is sort of an old friend. He is good friends with Alan and used to play Magic in the old days, but I never saw him much. We met up again in Dark Age of Camelot in my All Paladin guild on Morded (Horrible idea) And when we got sick of that joined Shadowclan, where we stayed until we quit. We played City of Heroes together for a bit, and WoW for a bit.

Jeremy Muir has shown up. He stayed up too late making a deck and went to bed at 8 am. He just got up. He asks if he can take notes and write a report about the Top 8.

Game one, I don’t know what his deck is supposed to do, but here’s what my deck did.

Forest, Elf.

Cradle, Tap Forest, Elf, Tap Elf , Elf, Tap Cradle, Spike Feeder.

Turn 3 – Serve. Oh yeah, and a Weaver.

I side in some Lifeforces, since I saw him play a Black dual land.

Zach gets two land on his draw. One of them a Wasteland. On turn 2 I play a Cradle and he wastes it. On turn 4 I Creep his other land and he sits there while I pound him.

Jeremy Muir laughs and tells him he has the Wakefield Curse. Go undefeated in the Swiss and then lose in the first round to the Top 8. Alan says I must have given him the Wakefield cut to no land. Someone says the Wakefield luck is holding true. Hilary feigns disbelief and makes a Braveheart reference. “That’s not Jamie Wakefield. Jamie Wakefield is twelve feet tall and shoots tokens out his arse!”

Zach puts his tourney deck away and pulls out something he just made and we play a few games for fun.

Semifinals sees me paired up against Alan again.

Knowing a little better what he’s playing gives me a bit more of a chance than our first two games.

I start off with an early elf rush and just keep attacking for three. He has used his Sylvan already so he’s dangerously low on life after a few turns of this. The last thing I want to do is cast anything so he gets a two-for-one snake + counter. So I just sit and keep attacking. At the end of my turn, he casts a Snake, untaps and says go. Now I’m sitting with some 1/1’s facing off against his 2/2 and not enough damage to kill him. So, I start to play out the least exciting things in my hand, and he has to counter them or I’ll get enough attackers to overwhelm him. Or, if he lets a Spike Feeder through, I can play Spike tricks and move them onto whatever he doesn’t block. Being so low on life, he has to counter almost everything and eventually I get a Verdant out and he chump blocks looking for an answer that never comes.

Game two I side in some Rancors which I never see the entire tournament.

Alan Force of Wills my Lyrist. He Brainstorms on his turn. He plays a land and on the following turn a Sylvan again. He gets one of those damn things every opening hand, I swear. Since he started first, and has Forced, he’s down to two land and three cards in hand. Might he be land light? I Wasteland a land, play a wall of Roots, Lyrist. He does nothing. I play a monkey, and again, no answer. I Creep a land, but that’s okay, he’ll make more. I go the distance with a few creatures and Alan plays a land every turn.

Alan comments on the phone the next day that we didn’t even get to play. The amount we played in all four of our games combined didn’t amount to two really good games.

So, in my first tournament in five years, I’ve made it to the finals.

At the table in front of me, Stompy is playing Fish to see who gets to play me in the finals.

Stompy is funny with multiple Giant Growths and multiple Berserks. Despite this, it still fails to take down the Fish and once again I am faced off against Dan German with Fish for the Championship of the day.

I mulligan to five.

He starts off quick with multiple 1/1 fish that keep turning my Forests to islands to try and keep me low on Green mana. It doesn’t seem to hinder me much and I start throwing out weenies and he counters three of them. I eventually get two Feeders and a monkey on the board and start to nick away at him. He keeps playing land, I cast an Order freely and go get the Verdant Force. He offers his hand and for one brief moment, I think I’ve won the whole thing, forgetting that that was game one.

I side in Tsunamis.

He sides in Submerge.

Murderer's Row

Game two, he acts like he’s playing Stunted Growth and Land Destruction and he keeps boomeranging my land, and Submerging my creatures. So I get stalled out very very fast as he lays down Rootwater Thief puts Curiosity on one of them, and keeps removing cards from my deck, while drawing cards from his.

At ten, I decide to make a desperate play. I need to go get a Weaver to stop the bleeding but I only have an Elf, a forest, and a Gaea’s Cradle in play. In hand is a Natural Order, and another Gaea’s Cradle. I tap everything on the board for three,

(At this point in the game, Jeremy Muir starts writing furiously, but I’m oblivious to it. Concentrating on my mad tech play.)

play my Gaea’s Cradle, and Dan informs me that both are instantly buried due to new Legend rules. So, if a New Legend is played, both are instantly buried?

“Yes, because of Kamigawa. It’s filled with Legends so they changed the rule.”

Okay, can someone explain the justification for making it that way? That’s pointless. It doesn’t help anyone.

Nope. No one can explain why this change was made, and “its retarded” is said multiple times.

I bury both of my Cradles and my Elf and he swarms me with weenies.

I extend my hand and for the briefest of moments, think that I have lost it all until someone says “Time for Game Three!”


We shuffle up and present decks to be cut. We draw.

My opening hand is Cradle, Wasteland, Natural Order, Creeping Mold, Creeping Mold, Overrun, Spike Feeder.

I mulligan.

My hand is almost identical, but this time without the Wasteland.


I mulligan to five. No land at all but one elf. Do I keep it? When will I draw a forest? I announce that I am mulliganing, and then flip over the top card. A Forest.


I mulligan to four. No land and a Verdant. Not sexy.

I mulligan to three.

So you lost fight?

Wait for it.

Forest, Wasteland, Wall of roots. I decide to keep it.

My first draw is a Natural Order.

I can’t read my own writing here. I believe it says “bouncing” which I can assume means lots of Boomerangs are played. As well as maybe a Capsize or two. He doesn’t get out anything that can hurt me too much, so I weather the storm and just keep slowly playing out my land and Wall and a Lyrist, which he counters. And then, as I’m getting lower on health, I draw a pretty good stream of creatures, but nothing too threatening. When I think he is out of counters, I have a choice to play a Feeder, or the Natural Order. I ponder for a few seconds and go with the Feeder. And, He Force Of Wills It!

He takes his turn, does some damage to me, and I Natural Order for a Verdant. Which stops his assault in its tracks. And he has no counter.


Everyone loves dinosaurs.

Then I draw another Natural Order.

And soon, Dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

He extends his hand and the shop erupts with “you forced the spike feeder!!! Omg you will forever be known as the guy who forced the spike feeder!”

Hilary is giddy and exclaiming that it is the greatest match he has ever seen. That he couldn’t be happier with today’s tournament.

After the laughter and good-natured ribbing of the Dan die down, I see Michelle conversing in hushed whispers and I go over to them and over hear Michelle say “I know what we can do for a prize.”

Guys. Really, you don’t need to do anything for me.”

“Well we have to do something.”

“Oh! This black Superman shirt! I’ve been eying it all day!”

“SOLD! Hilary says!

And then we all go out for Chinese food.

And lo, it was good.

And now, let’s have a hand for our intrepid photographer, The Lovely Mare.

The lovely Mare